Damn it. I was running late. I shot out of bed and into ‘ready mode’ – zipping around, grabbing what I needed for my morning practice. My house becoming a haphazard blur of flying yoga mats, yoga pants, blocks, water bottles, and bananas, I was out the door before you could say Namaste.
For anyone who has driven before knowing that they are running late, you will know what an infuriating experience this is. Things that you normally wouldn’t notice suddenly become the banes of your existence and the adorable father and son cycling on the side of the road that everyone is slowing down for are no longer adorable, but rather a nuisance. My calm manner is out the window and replaced with curse words, panicked thoughts and a lead foot.
That was until I was caught behind a motorcycle. Great, I thought, motorcycles always tear down the roads, this young hooligan will create a fast tracked path through the traffic, I can follow him and before I know it I will be up in bakasana. Well, that was until I spotted one thing. This was no ordinary motorbike - this was a learner motorcycle. None other than a learner motorcyclist that could very well have hopped on a motorcycle for the first time that morning and knew less about how to maneuver his beast around the streets than I did. And so began my snail-paced drive down the one-lane streets to my yoga practice. I was jumping around in my seat, tapping my fingers on my steering wheel, making deals with the universe, focusing all my attention on the hope that this learner bike would turn down a side street and give me a clear path to the studio, but alas this did not happen.
The bike followed my exact path to yoga, turning down my side street and pulled over – in my usual park, no less. Just when I was about to drive past and give him the biggest stink eye I could muster, he removed his helmet and all of my anger melted away. I looked at this man, and my frustration suddenly turned to feelings of gladness, gratitude and peace. I did not know this man, he looked old enough to have been around when the Bhagavad Gita was originally transcribed, leathered and wrinkled with a proud smile on his face of the fact that he had just successfully ridden his motorcycle through the streets. This man was just starting, just learning, and absorbing the feel of the bike, the sensations of riding on the road.
It then became clear to me that I too, was a learner. I had assumed that just because my physical practice was developing and each asana was gradually improving that was perhaps now a ‘provisional’ yogini. On this day, I learned more before my practice than anything, that whilst I was physically improving, my spiritual practice needed the strengthening. For what is yoga without a deep set of spiritual asana -- where I come to know myself, my strengths, my weaknesses, and accept the good with the bad, acknowledging where I need to improve and develop within myself. To see the fellow learners around me, and assist them in any way that I can -- through advice, encouragement or maybe even a friendly smile.
So, instead of my prepared glare, I smiled at the man, and gave him a nod of gratitude for teaching me the most important lesson of all – we are all learners.
… And yes, I even made it to my class in time.